Summer Read 2016: The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
Every year, new students entering Whitman College read a book in common before they arrive on campus, attend a faculty-led panel about the book, and take part in discussions of it during Orientation Week. This year’s book was The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. The Empathy Exams is a collection of essays in which Jamison considers aspects of empathy and pain as they intersect with various experiences from her own life. In the title essay, Jamison contrasts working as a standardized patient for medical student training and being a patient herself. Her other topics include: borders, violence, and her travels in Mexico, Nicaragua, and Bolivia; a mysterious illness; an extreme wilderness marathon; one man’s life in prison; the deaths of three boys and the arrests of three others for their murder; sentimentality and artificial sweetener; gender and pain in popular culture, in literature, and in experiences of her friends.
The Summer Read display in Penrose Library illustrates each essay with one or more representative images directly referenced in the essay or inspired by it. Display creator Sarah Owen commented, “Displaying images that portray EMPATHY is near impossible, but displaying images that will remind the reader of Leslie Jamison’s essays may trigger an empathetic response. For that reason, I selected images for each essay that opened my memory to the thought behind the story.”
Leslie Jamison will address the Whitman and Walla Walla communities and discuss The Empathy Exams at Cordiner Hall on Wednesday, September 7 at 7 pm.